MEDICS who help keep revellers safe at the Glastonbury Festival and a community theatre group are among organisations to have been granted the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
Festival Medical Services (FMS), which is based at Evercreech, and the Minehead Amateur Theatrical Association (MATA) and Regal Theatre Company have received the award – the highest honour available to voluntary groups in the UK.
FMS is the largest UK organisation providing comprehensive on-site medical services to festivals and outdoor events.
It all started at the Glastonbury Festival in 1979 and has expanded to cover countless events each year, providing medical services such as x-ray and imaging, dentists, podiatrist’s mental health workers and pharmacy for almost any conditions.
Last year, they celebrated 40 years of service at Glastonbury and festival founder Michael Eavis toured their medical centre on-site to congratulate them on their achievements – they particularly pride themselves on how few patients nowadays ever have to be transferred to hospital for treatment.
The group also raises money for medical charities – both in the UK and abroad – and each year donates up to £100,000 to other good causes.
Its doctors, nurses, ambulance and admin staff are all unpaid volunteers.
Dr Chris Howes, managing director and founder of Festival Medical Services, from Croscombe, near Wells, said: “The organisation we have grown into is scarcely recognisable as that which received its first patient in a kitchen at Worthy Farm in 1979.
“We are all thrilled that Festival Medical Services has been honoured in this way.
“When we started at Glastonbury we had just a doctor, nurse and receptionist and some very basic equipment.
“Over the years we have grown into a massive operation involving over 800 crew at Glastonbury and 500 at Reading, providing a whole range of on site medical services.
“At the other end of the scale we are very pleased to be able to support small local events in Somerset such as the Wells Fun Run and the Pilton Show.
“Our volunteers now come from all over the country and provide a hugely comprehensive range of high-quality medical services.
“They show relentless commitment and dedication and devote their skills, energy and experience to ensure the service we provide is second to none. If these top professionals were not willing to volunteer their time and expertise, then the service we provide would be unaffordable.
“FMS aspires to the highest possible standards of clinical care and professionalism. Added to that we are a family, and we look after each other – especially when the elements may be challenging, and we are coping with rain and mud, or extreme heat, as well.
“I am delighted on behalf of these dedicated colleagues that their work has been recognised – although it’s sadly ironic that this award should come when few, if any, events will be taking place this summer because of coronavirus.”
TOUR: Michael Eavis with Festival Medical Services volunteers at Glastonbury
Meanwhile, the MATA Regal Theatre Company has held a pivotal role in West Somerset for 25 years.
This all-volunteer group of 200 people, aged between 18 and 91, is a cohesive team in an isolated coastal community with the shared core purpose of community well-being and life-improvement.
They live their ethos “For the Community, By the Community” at every level.
Events at The Regal include plays, concerts and live screening of events from the Royal Opera House at affordable prices for people who live in the area.
This successful and highly regarded volunteer group is now lending their expertise and acquired experience to other local and voluntary groups for the benefit of their community.
Just 230 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups across the United Kingdom will receive the prestigious award this year.
The number of nominations remains high year on year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities.
It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.
Representatives of both groups will receive the award from Mrs Annie Maw, Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset later this summer.
Furthermore, two volunteers from each group will be invited to attend a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, along with other recipients of this year’s Award.
Mrs Maw said: “In the last weeks we have all been reminded of the natural generosity and kindness of the community around us.
“We have among us, remarkable people who, with compassion and determination, find solutions to problems or ways to fill gaps in services and, without any obvious regard for their own welfare, create ways to solve the difficulties they perceive.
“These people are crucial to our way of life and it gives me great personal pleasure that once again, in Somerset, we have a number of organisations who are so exceptional in what they do, that they have received recognition from Her Majesty.
“This is the highest reward and an immeasurable gesture of gratitude from our Queen and from her family.
“Thanks, too, is willingly given by us, the citizens of Somerset, who are, without exception boundlessly grateful to each and every one of these great initiatives and to the people who work within them.”